Fields of Dreams

I always dreamed of becoming a sports hero.

I wanted to be the guy who scored the winning goal or hit the winning runs.  I wanted 100 000 people to cheer my name.  I wanted Mum to be proud but instead I became a sports journalist and this is why.

My earliest sporting memory was the Springboks returning to international rugby in 1992 against New Zealand.  I was only nine but the match left a lasting impression.  Soon afterwards India’s cricketers were touring South Africa.  I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – a sportsman.

An aggressive collection of sports equipment, shirts, magazines, books, autographs and whatever else I could get my hands on commenced.  I would put on my SA cricket shirt and bowl in the backyard for hours after school.  In winter I donned my Bok jersey and practiced goal kicking.  The large tree acted as the poles.  However, it soon became clear I was hopeless.

I could not run, jump or throw so athletics was out.  I could not tackle so my rugby career flopped.  My fast bowling was on some kind of morphine so I set my sights on becoming the next Shane Warne.  Sadly every ball I bowled was the wrong one!  Oh and of course I could not bat.

My determination endured.  I tried baseball, hockey and soccer – when we lost a pre-season game 11-0 I knew I was no goalkeeper.  Maybe tennis would be my game.  Maybe not.  I got no love from that sport, or squash for that matter.  After being taught how to drive a golf ball my first shot was perfect; straight down the middle of the fairway.  The next 30 shots all went pitifully square along the ground and I knew golf was not for me.

I was desperate to be the family’s first sports hero.  So desperate that when my high school history teacher invited me to try rugby (again) I accepted.  Maybe this time things would be different.  They were.  Curiously I found myself in the front row.  Without knowing how to scrum I crouched, touched, engaged and pulled a muscle in my back.  I did not attend school for the rest of the week let alone walk again until the weekend.

Forced to consider my options, I decided to cut my losses and do the next best thing and I am glad I did.  I would not trade my job for anything in the world.

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